Feb. 1 marks the anniversary of the signing of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

National Freedom Day is a United States observance on February 1 honoring the signing by President Abraham Lincoln of a joint House and Senate resolution that later was ratified as the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Specifically, the holiday commemorates the day in 1865 when President Abraham Lincoln signed what would later become the 13th Amendment. This amendment is so important because it effectively ended slavery in the United States.

February 1st was chosen as National Freedom Day because it was the day in 1865 that President Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Do you know what the 13th Amendment did? This amendment, an important change to our written law, outlawed slavery in the United States.

Although Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared “all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free” in 1863, the law only applied to areas of the Confederacy in a state of rebellion, not slave-holding states that hadn’t left the union. It wasn’t until the end of the Civil War and the amendment’s passage that slavery was abolished nationwide, according to the National Archives. 

The Thirteenth Amendment states, “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United State, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Along with the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments, it is part of the constitutional amendment trio that expanded the civil rights of Americans. 

In 1948, President Harry Truman proclaimed Feb. 1 as National Freedom Day in honor of the amendment that outlawed slavery, according to the American Presidency Project.